Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday became the first Oklahoma governor to host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony at the state Capitol.
The menorah lighting ceremony in the governor's Blue Room was held in conjunction with the Chabad Jewish Center of Oklahoma City.
Hanukkah, an eight-day holiday often called the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sundown Saturday.
“Although Chabad has partners all over the world bringing the universal message of Hanukkah, this is the first time a governor of Oklahoma has agreed to host a menorah lighting event,” Ovadia Goldman, rabbi of the Oklahoma City Chabad center, said Friday.
“It's a monumental moment of sharing our faith.”
Hanukkah commemorates the victory of a band of Jews, the Maccabees, against Greek-Syrian occupiers in 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Jewish Temple.
When the Maccabees reclaimed the temple from their oppressors, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the Ner Tamid, which is in every Jewish house of worship.
According to tradition, once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished, but the Maccabees had only enough oil for one day. During Hanukkah, people celebrate the miracle that the lamp stayed lit for eight days with only the small amount of oil that remained.
Jews worldwide gather around menorahs to light a candle each night of the holiday as they celebrate the long-ago miracle of the oil.
Friday, Fallin accepted a commemorative menorah on behalf of Oklahoma, presented by Goldman and his wife, Nechoma.
After lighting a candle on the menorah, Fallin said the Hanukkah menorah is a symbol of hope, faith and religious liberty.
“We appreciate all the menorah stands for and Hanukkah stands for,” she said.
“We can celebrate our faith and our liberty that we all enjoy.”
Fallin also took time to say that she thinks it is important that the United States stand in support with Israel and help fight anti-Semitism and religious intolerance around the globe.
Edie Roodman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, and Nechoma Goldman said they and other members of the metro-area Jewish community appreciated the governor's commitment to making the inaugural Capitol menorah a reality.
“The Hanukkah lights are meant to bring a glow and warmth out to the community,” Roodman said.
“It's a perfect chance to share our holiday and our shared blessings.”
We appreciate all the menorah stands for and Hanukkah stands for. We can celebrate our faith and our liberty that we all enjoy.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin,